In 2018, 76 000 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Poland (excluding EU citizens), 62.1% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 67.6% labour migrants, 14.4% family members (including accompanying family), 7.1% who came for education reasons and 10.8% other migrants. Around 37 000 short-term permits were issued to international students and 276 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 27 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2018, an increase of 29.6% compared to 2017. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Ukraine, Belarus and India were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Ukraine registered the strongest increase (9 800) and China the largest decrease (-1 200) in flows to Poland compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 15%, to reach around 2 800. The majority of applicants came from Russia (1 800), Ukraine (200) and Turkey (100). The largest increase since 2018 concerned nationals of Russia (+200) and the largest decrease nationals of Iraq (-35). Of the 1 000 decisions taken in 2019, 13.3% were positive.

The amended Act on foreigners came into force in April 2019. The Minister of the Interior now needs to approve all institutions (except public universities) accepting foreign students. From February 2018 foreign graduates of Polish universities applying for a job-seeking temporary residence permit or starting a business in Poland are only required to possess financial means that cover the costs of subsistence without recourse to the social assistance system. Their length of stay was reduced from one year to nine months.

Since July 2019, the Card of the Pole may now be obtained by foreigners with Polish origin from all over the world and not only from the countries of the former Soviet Union. The holders of the Card of the Pole can obtain a permanent residence permit free of charge from the very beginning of their stay in Poland; after one year of residence in Poland they are entitled to acquire Polish citizenship.

In February 2019, a draft amendment to the law came into force to prevent the abuse of the asylum procedure. The most important changes include the introduction of an accelerated asylum procedure and a listing of safe countries of origin. Undocumented foreigners applying for refugee status at the border will not be allowed in if they come from a safe country of origin or provide inconsistent claims They may be sent to detention centres to await a decision, due to be taken within 20 days from the receipt of the application. If no decision is taken within 28 days, they are allowed to enter the country where their application is examined through normal asylum procedure.

In January 2019 foreign women were given the right to a maternal pension (about the minimum old-age pension, around EUR 213) if they had at least four children. In order to participate in the ‘Mum 4+’ programme, foreigners must have personal or economic connections with Poland for at least 10 years after the age of 16 and must have stayed in Poland legally.

On 31st March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anti-Crisis Shield includes special measures for migrants during the pandemic, inter alia an extension of residence and work permits for migrants (until 30 days after the end of the state of emergency). A new provision allows them to work under conditions other than those specified in their permits, without the need to obtain new ones, if the changing of conditions was related to COVID-19 state aid. Detailed information on the special provisions for foreigners is available in several languages on the website of the Office for Foreigners. Border control has been temporarily re-established.

On 21 June 2020, a law introducing a solidarity allowance for workers (including migrant workers) who lost their jobs due to the pandemic entered into force. It concerns workers whose contract was terminated after 15 March 2020, or whose fixed-term work contract ended after this date, and will be paid for three months from June to August 2020.

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